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Presented to the 

LIBRARY of the 



Willard G. Oxtoby 


Presented to 

BY S- J. Be K, J. ANT1A 

Position of Zoroastrian Women 





On the 18th of April 1892, 



Bombay : 




Lady Avanbai Jamshodjse Joojoobhai, 


Che Sii? Jamshedjee Jeejeebhai 
Sairfhoshfi (Bad^essa, 


For the Dissemination and Progress of 
Religious Research 

Among the Soroastrian Community, 

This Book is respectfully inscribed with grati- 

tude for all that the Institution has 

taught the Author, 



Actuated by the reasons I have men- 
tioned in pages 4 6 of this book, this Lec- 
ture on the " Position of Zoroastrian Women 
in Remote Antiquity " was delivered by me 
on the 1 8th of April, under the Presidency 
of the Honourable Sir Raymond West, 
G.C.I.E., LL.D. (Member of Council), in 
the Bai Bhikaijee Shahpurjee Bengalee 
Hall of the Parsee Girls' School at Bombay. 
In it I have generally adhered to the 
earliest fragments of the Zoroastrian litera- 
ture, and collected most of the references 
to my subject in the Sacred Writings of the 
Parsees. It has been my object to show 
the extent to which Zoroastrian men had, 
in very olden times, cherished respect for 
women, and the position they assigned to 
them in social, moral and religious rela- 
tionsa position if not nobler, at least 
as noble as that accorded to them by the 


most civilized nations known in the history 
of the world. The special attention of 
some European writers is humbly drawn 
to it, as they occasionally seem to be 
unfamiliar with the history and antiquity 
of Zoroastrian Iran. 

As nearly half the cost of printing and 
publishing this discourse has been made 
up by the kind support of the Trustees of 
the Sir Jamshedjee Translation Fund and 
of a tew other patrons of Zoroastrian re- 
search (I myself paying the remaining 
half,) this volume, like its predecessor 
on the alleged practice of " Next-of-kin 
Marriages in Old Iran ", is intended for 
gratuitous circulation amongst my Com- 
munity, as well as for presentation to 
European Avesta scholars and to the 
principal libraries in India and Europe. 

D. D. P. S. 

loth May 1892. 



PREFACE... iii 


English Views of Women 

Lecture on the Position of Zoroastrian Women. 3 

Sir Raymond's Observations on it 51 

lleport of the Proceedings ... ...62 68 

Sydvdkhshz&&&udabeh ...6982 





Among the famous peoples of remote antiqui- 
ty be they Indo-Iranians or Indo -Europeans 
there was no community in which man had more 
unselfish sympathy with woman than the Zoroas- 
trian nation that lived in the Eastern territories 
of Iran more than three thousand years ago. 
Under the influence of monotheism, and by a 
close observation of the sublime powers of the 
Deity reflected in His work in Nature, theZoroas- 
trian man of ancient Iran had become naturally 
capable of appreciating the different blessings 
God had bestowed upon him by the creation of 
womankind. In primitive Iranian society the 
wife held a position, in social as well as spiritual 
relations, not inferior to her spouse, husband or 
lord. The wife, the mother, the daughter were 
beings for whom the husband, the son, the 
father had very anxious regard. 


" When we are seeking," says Mr. Gladstone, 
" to ascertain the measure of that conception 
which any given race has formed of our nature, 
there is, perhaps, no single test so effective as 
the position which it assigns to women. For, as 
the law of force is the law of the brute creation, 
so, in proportion as he is under the yoke of that 
law, does man approximate to the brute; and in 
proportion, on the other hand, as he has escaped 
from its dominion, is he ascending into the higher 
sphere of being, and claiming relationship with 
Deity." So the probable test of the ancient 
Iranian civilization, lies in the social and moral 
position which that nation assigned to its women. 

Two important facts have persuaded me to 
select for to-day's lecture the subject of the 
social status of Zoroastrian women in ancient 
Iran. First, the general system of training im- 
parted to Parsee girls in Bombay, which has 
lately been drawing to it very great attention. 
I trust that a treatment of the theme I have 
chosen, will remind us of our divergence in these 
days from the system of moral and spiritual 
culture which is so well emphasized in the 
ancient Zoroastrian books, as the useful factor in 

the mental development of the female sex. Se- 
condly, the common opinion of English writers 
on the history of civilization and morals, that the 
civilized nations of the East were, before the 
advent of Christianity into this world, quite 
unfamiliar with the highest and noblest ideas 
regarding woman which are embodied in the 
New Testament. Hence Christianity is supposed 
to be " the origin of many of the purest elements 
of our civilization/' In the ' ' History of the Rise 
and Influence of the spirit of Rationalism in 
Europe," by W. E. H. Lecky (Vol. L, page 213), 
we light upon this European or Christian stand- 
point : " Seldom or never has there been one 
which has exercised a more profound and, on 
the whole, a more salutary influence than the 
mediteval conception of the Virgin. For the 
first time woman was elevated to her rightful 
position, and the sanctity of weakness was recog- 
nized as well as the sanctity of sorrow 

Into a harsh and ignorant and benighted age this 
ideal type infused a conception of gentleness and 
of purity unknown to the proudest civilizations 
of the past." How far Mr. Lecky's view is 
open to exceptions, may be easily observed by a 


cursory glance at the most ancient ideas regard- 
ing woman, which Zoroastrism had taught to 
mankind many centuries before the Christian 
doctrines caine into existence. 1 

I have here generally confined myself to the 
existing fragments of the Zand-Avesta a Euro- 
pean designation very commonly applied to the 
Sacred Books of the Parsee community. The 
proper scientific name of the Parsee Scriptures 
is the Avista, i. e., the Revelation of what is 
unknown, or, according to the Vedic Avesta, the 
book containing moral and ceremonial laws. The 
most ancient Avesta fragments now extant, form 
only about one-third of the original whole, com- 
prehended in the twenty-one Nasks of the entire 
Avesta literature, the rest having been scattered 
or destroyed during foreign conquests. Though 
incomplete, these existing portions have enshrined 
a few materials which would enable us to form an 

1 Mr. Lilly says in his " Right and Wrong," p. 204 : "No- 
where is the immeasurable superiority of Christianity to the rest 
of the world's creeds more clearly manifested than in its ideal 
and law of matrimony." Such opinions maybe attributed to 
the ignorance of English philosophers of Zoroaster's ideal 
of women in the Parsee Scriptures, which was attained by the 
Zoroastrians in the more ancient Avesta period. 

idea in outline of the training and organization 
of the Zoroastrian family in the golden age of 
the Zoroastrian people. These references have 
been brought to light to a certain extent by 
European and Parsee writers. Among the former 
I may mention Spiegel, Geiger, Darmesteter, 
Harlez, Casartelli and Zimmer ; among the latter 
the renowned historian, Mr. Dosabhai Framjee 
Karaka, and Mr. Sohrabjee Shahpurjee Benga- 
lee. * It is a happy coincidence that the liberal 
donor of this magnificent building 2 and a pioneer 
of Parsee female education, Mr. Sohrabjee Ben- 
galee, was the first to attempt, more than 30 
years ago, a special discourse upon the position 

1 As my authorities I may here mention Drs. West, Dar- 
mesteter and Mills in Max Mnller's " Sacred Books of the 
East," Vols. IV., V., XVIII., XXIII., XXIV., XXXI. ; 
Spiegel (Eranische Altertumskunde, Vol. III. ; and Arische 
Periode) ; Justi (Geschichte der orientalischen Vb'lker im 
Altertum) ; Geiger (Ostiranische Kultnr im Altertum) ; 
Schrader (Sprachvergleichung and Urgeschichte) ; Rapp 
(Die Religion und Sitte der Perser und iibrigen Iranier nach 
den griechischen and romischen Qneller) ; Westermarck 
(History of Human Marriage) ; Harlez (Livre sacre du 
Z oroastrisme) ; Casartelli (La Philosophie religieuse du 
Ma/deisme sous les Sassanides) ; and Zimmer (Indisches 

2 The Bai Bhikaiji Shahpurjee Bengalee Buildings of the 
Parsee Girls' School, Bombay, 


of Zoroastrian women in ancient Iran, in a con- 
tribution on this subject to a quarterly native 
journal, the Jagod Premi. 

The time at my disposal will not permit me to 
submit a comparative treatment of the position 
of women in the Indo-Iranian period, a question 
which I hope to handle on a future occasion. 
My purpose has been simply to lay before you 
the general substance of primitive Zoroastrian 
thought on the training and position of women 
as illustrated in our most ancient writings. I 
have not on this occasion pointed to any of the 
references that are obscure or ambiguous; my 
humble observations have been restricted to the 
authority of lucid allusions and passages. 

At the outset I may be allowed to say a word 
regarding the literary position of the Iranian 
people at the time when the illustrious move- 
ment, or the Revelation in Religion, was inaugu- 
rated by Zarathushtra Spitama } i. e., Zoroaster. 
It issued as a monotheistic appeal to the free 
will of the different nations that then inhabited 
Central Asia, and had in view that noblest 
of all objects progress and renovation in the 
sphere of human thought concerning the power 


of the Highest in the Universe. Previous to 
that moral and spiritual movement, we ought to 
assume the existence of a certain kind of pre- 
development or preparation of ideas for its accep- 
tance. No doubt the Iranian nation had become 
fully sensible in the Avesta period of the want 
of some powerful spiritual help, and its talents 
were capable of reasoning upon Zoroaster's doc- 
trines and of discovering the truth embodied in 
them. Under such circumstances we can readily 
believe that the Zoroastrian nation, in the age of 
the Avesta, was composed of men and women who 
had already been brought up amidst civilized 
surroundings. The philosophical sermons ad- 
dressed by Zoroaster to both the sexes, in the 
rhythmical style of the Gathas, furnish us with 
a proof of the existence of talented women in 
that golden age of Zoroastrian sovereignty. (Yas. 
XXX. 1-2 and 9). 

With these preliminary remarks, I pass onward 
to the main part of my lecture which includes 
(1), the subject of birth, training and functions 
of the daughter of a Zoroastrian up to the age of 
puberty; (2), the Avesta ideas on the marriage 
tie; (3), an insight into the social and spiritual 


status of the Zoroastrian wife ; and (4), the ques- 
tion whether polygamy or monogamy was prac- 
tised in the Avesta period. 

The ancient Iranians had other and far higher 
purposes in marriages than the mere begetting 
of children. These purposes were not of a selfish 
kind. They were based or concentrated in the 
revealed hope of the spiritual elevation of the 
good creation in the end. The Zoroastrian faith 
aspires to a high state of spiritual progress which 
is to be consummated about the time of the 
resurrection, when the spirit of man will reach 
its purest or angelic stage. Humanity, according 
to Zoroaster, is born to fight out its struggle 
against evil in this world, and to adhere to and 
strengthen the cause of good. The principal im- 
petus to a marriage conclusion is, consequently, 
the desire to contribute to the great renovation 
hereafter, which is promised for humanity. This 
renovation cannot be carried out in the individual 
self, but must be gradually worked out through 
a continuous line of sons, grandsons, and great- 
grandsons. The motive of marriage for the 
Iranians was, therefore, sacred. It was a reli- 
gious purpose which they had in view when the 


male and female individuals contributed by mari- 
tal union (nairithwana) their assistance (1), in the 
propagation of the human race; (2), in spreading 
the Zoroastrian faith ; and (3), in giving stability 
to the religious kingdom of God by contributing 
to the victory of the good cause which victory 
will be complete about the time of the resurrec- 
tion. 1 (Yasna LXVIII. 5; XXX. 9; XXXIV- 
15; XLVI. 3; LXX. 5; Yasht XIX. 89, 98; 
VIII. 15; X. 38, 65; XIII. 148-155). 

The objects of the marriage bond were, there- 
fore, purely religious, tending to the success of 
light, piety or virtue in this world. For this 
reason the old Iranian honours " the mother of 
many children, of many sons, of many bold 
talented sons." (VMe Visp. I. 5, etc.) The 
Greek historians say that a mother received 
from the king valuable awards for her helpful 

1 According to Becker' s Charicles (pp. 475 seq.) " There were 
three considerations by which the duty of marriage was enforced 
among the ancient Greeks : I. Respect to the gods ; for it was 
incumbent on every one to leave behind him those who should 
continue to discharge his religious obligations, II. Obligation 
to the State ; since by generating descendants, its continuance 
was provided for. III. A regard for their own race and 
lineage to discharge the duties to the departed," 


hand in the increase of the race. 1 " Male child- 
ren," "a, troop of male children," and "the 
purity of one's soul/' are blessings of equal merit 
in the Avesta (Yt. VIII. 15.) 2 The gift of sons is 
as good as the gift of a sovereignty, or of bliss 
in heaven. (Yt. X. 65.) Bright children and a 
direct line of descendants, are bestowed upon 
pious women by Haoma. (Yas. IX. 22.) Hence 
the Avesta declares that " the married man is 
far above him who is unmarried ; he who has 
a settled home is far above him who has none ; 
he who has children is far above him who has 
no offspring." (Vend. IV. 47.) One of the 
benedictions which Zoroaster pronounced upon 

1 Cf. Fr. Spiegel. "N"ach Strabo (XV. 733; setzte der Konig 
Belohnungen fur diejenigen aus, welche die meisten Sohne 
erzeugt batten." (Vol. III., p. 681.) 

2 Compare the Manusmriti, or the Institutes of the Sacred 
Law proclaimed by Manu (S. B. E., Vol. XXV., Chap. IX., 
26-28) : " Between wives who (are destined) to bear children, 
who secure many blessings, who are worthy of worship and 
irradiate (their) dwellings, and between the goddesses of 
fortune, (who reside,) in the houses (of men), there is no 
difference whatever. The production of children, the nurture 
of those born, and the daily life of men, (of these matters) 
woman is visibly the cause. Offspring, (the due perform- 
ance of,) religious rites, faithful service, highest conjugal 
happiness and heavenly bliss for the ancestors and oneself 
depend on one's wife alone." 


King Vishtaspa is : "May you (i.e., King Vish- 
taspa and Queen Hutaosa) procreate ten male 
offspring resembling yourselves in their bodily 
constitution ! May three of them follow the voca- 
tion of the priest, three the tactics of the warrior, 
and three agriculture ! May one of them follow 
the ways of Jamasp (i.e., turn out a sage) that 
you may be assisted with his most felicitous wisdom 
for ever and ever/' (Yasht Frag. XXIV. 3.) 

[According to Westermarck, the Hebrews 
have a proverb that " he who has no wife is no 
man." According to Manu, " marriage is the 
twelfth Sanskdra, and hence a religious duty 
incumbent upon all " (II. 66). " Until he finds 
a wife/' says the Brahmadharma, " a man is only 
half of a whole. " In ancient Greece, marriage 
was one of the public duties of the citizen. The 
old unmarried men or women, and even those 
that married too- late were, in Sparta, prosecuted 
and punished (Miiller, Vol. II., p. 300). Ac- 
cording to Plato, " every individual is bound to 
provide for a continuance of representatives to 
succeed himself as ministers of the Divinity/' 
(N'epos VL, p. 773.) To the Roman citizen the 
blessing of children was the principal motive of 


life. Cicero's treatise " De Legibus " states that 
the Roman law imposed a tax upon unmarried 
men. " Children," says Hobbes, " are a man's 
power and his honour ! " ( Vide Bain, Morals, 
p. 142.) Josephus and Zimmer record about 
the prehistoric Semites and the Indo -Iranians, 
that they were very desirous of begetting sons, 
specially from the religious conviction that the 
departed spirits of their family would be rendered 
happy and gratified by the ceremonial homage 
and remembrance offered to them in the future 
by their male successors. (Vide Westermarck, 
pp. 141-143 and 379.) Dr. Oldenberg (in Bud- 
dha, seine Leben, seine Lehre, seine Gemeinde,) 
speaks of the fundamental duties of monastic life 
prescribed by Buddha: "The monk who has 
sexual intercourse, is no longer a monk ; he 
is no disciple of the son of the Sakya house." 
(p. 350.) Celibacy was, in Manu, enjoined on 
young priests and on old men ; but <f the Bud- 
dha/' says Sir Monier- Williams, " enunciated 
that ' a wise man should avoid married life as if 
it were a burning pit of live coals'. . . Bud- 
dha's anti-matrimonial doctrines did excite op- 
position. The people murmured and said, ' He 


is come to bring childlessness amongst us, and 
widowhood and destruction of family life.' ' 
(Vide Buddhism, p. 88.) ] 

According to the Avesta, married men or 
women who are impious, are not capable of 
begetting children. The good spirits imprecate 
childlessness upon them. (Yas. XI. 3.) This 
dictum of the Avesta is in harmony with the 
teachings of Nature, which warn us to avoid 
intemperate or impious habits, as these generally 
deteriorate the natural powers of procreation 
with which the sexes are endowed. [According 
to Westermarck, it is a Japanese proverb that, 
"' Honest people have many children ;' the 
Chinese regard a large family of sons as a mark 
of the Divine favour ; one of the chief blessings 
that Moses in the name of God promised the 
Israelites, was a numerous progeny ; and the 
ancient Romans regarded the procreation of 
legitimate children as the real end of marriage."] 

Among the Iranians in the age of the Avesta 
daughters were not disliked. 1 Although they 

1 Comp. Ward's " Views on the Hindoos," Vol. I., 
page 452 : " The Shastras declare that the daughters of 
Brahmans, till they are eight years old, are objects of worship, 


were less useful than sons in the extension of the 
father's race, still they, too, were objects of love 
and tenderness, tending to help the Zoroastrian 
race towards the religious object mentioned 
above. There is no reference in the Avesta 
which exhibits any trace of the displeasure of 
parents on the birth of a daughter. On the 
other hand, the name kanya radically points to 
an idea of great parental fondness for her. [Ac- 
cording to Manu, one's daughter must be consi- 
dered as ' the highest object of tenderness. 
(IV. 185.)] 

The Zoroastrian daughter was reared on the 
mother's breast to preserve the purity of her 
blood. She was fed on milk diet for the firsfc 
two years. The preliminary instruction seems 
to have been given by the mother herself. No 

as forms of tlie goddess Bhagvatee ; and some persons worship 
these girls daily. The worshipper, taking the daughter of 
some neighbouring Brahman, and placing her on a seat, per- 
forms the ceremonies of worship ; in which he presents to her 
flowers, paint, water, garlands, incense, and, if a rich man, 
offerings of cloth and ornaments. He closes the whole by 
prostrating himself before: the girl. At the worship of some 
of the female deities, also, the daughters of Brahmans have 
divine honours paid to them. The wives of Brahmans are also 
worshipped occasionally as an act of great merit." 


regular instruction was imparted up to the age 
of seven years. It has been remarked that " sin 
does not touch the child up to seven years of 
age." (Dm. Vol. IV., p. 263.) It was, therefore, 
incumbent upon tho parents not to invest the 
daughter with the Sudrah and Kusti, before 
she was seven years old. About this time the 
daughter entered into the airpatastdn, a religious 
school where she was initiated into the catecheti- 
cal elements of her parental faith. The elemen- 
tary religious books formed the sum-total of her 
school education. To make her qualified for 
her domestic duties, was a function that devolved 
almost entirely upon the mother. 

When past the seventh year the boy or the 
girl was supposed to have become capable of 
distinguishing between good and evil, right and 
wrong. The investiture of the sacred badges 
after seven years, entailed upon the girl a due 
discharge of her common religious duties as a 
Zoroastrian. The Avesta as well as the PiUilavi 
contain indirect or distant allusions to the condi- 
tion of a maiden in her father's home. General 
training in moral and religious precepts, the 
elementary rules of sanitation( Vend. VII,, 60 72), 


the .art of tending domestic animals (Yas. 
XXIII. 3), of spinning and weaving the sacred 
girdle as well as garments (Vend. V. 67 ; charditi, 
Yt. V. 87), of superintending the labourers in 
the field (Yas. LXVIIL 12) and the milking of 
the cows (Av. dughdhar), formed, as it seems, 
the principal acquirements useful to the maiden. L 

1 " Mr. Lane remarks that, in Egypt, at the age of five 
or six years, the children become of use to tend the flocks 
and herds ; and at a more advanced age, until they marry, 
they assist their fathers in the operations of agriculture." 
(Westermarck, p. 380.) 

Comp. Gladstone : " The Religion of the Homeric Age," 
p. 512 : "Of agricultural operations, we find women shar- 
ing only in the lighter labours of the vintage ; or perhaps 
acting as shepherdesses. The men plough, sow, reap, tend 
cattle and live-stock generally ; they hunt and they fish ; and 
they carry to the farm the manure that is accumulated about 
the house ; within doors, the women seem to have the whole 
duty in their hands, except the preparation of firewood and of 
animal food. The men kill, cut up, dress and carve the ani- 
mals that are to be eaten. The women, on the other hand, 
spin, weave, wash the clothes, clean the house, grind the corn, 
bake the bread and serve it, with all the vegetable or mixed* 
food, or .what may be called made dishes." 

We are told by Suetonius (Octavius, p. 64), that "the 
daughters and grand -daughters of Augustus were compelled 
to weave and spin, and that the Emperor usually wore no 
other garments but those made by the hands of his wife and 
sister. " (Letourneau, p. 199.) 


In public as in private home -life, she enjoyed 
the liberty of displaying her accomplishments. 
She was by her home training qualified to per- 
form her household duties and to take part in 
domestic and public ceremonies in short, she 
aspired to be the delight of her husband in the 
future. (Vendidad III. 8.) On her mind were 
impressed the principal moral and religious 
tenets of the Avesta. She ought to be liberal, 
truth-speaking, God-worshipping, kind towards 
everyone, thankful to God, righteous, contented, 
obedient to her lord or husband, faithful and 
industrious, pious in mind, word and deed; she 
ought to keep her promises, to contract no debts, 
to remember and revere the dear departed. 

The Zoroastrian wife was capable of attaining 
to the best virtues acquired by pious men. " We 
honour the pious lady who is straightforward in 
her mind, speech and action, who is worthy of 
respect for her accomplished education ( Jius h- 
Jidm-sdstdm) , who is obedient to her husband, 
who is chaste and as devoted to her guardian 
(i.e., parents) as Armaiti and other female angels 
are devoted (to the Deity)." (Vide Gah. IV. 9; 


S. B.'E., Vol.XXXL, p. 386. )' " She (i.e., the 
maiden) shall be with a mind absorbed in piety, 
with words all directing to piety, with deeds all 
conducive to piety." (Yt. XI. 4.) .So the Zoro- 
astrian girl throughout her education was trained 
up and qualified for all domestic requirements in 
her father's house/ at the same time her mind 
was steadily cultivated in the rudimentary prin- 
ciples of justice, righteousness and truth, just as 
in modern times children receive the rudiments 
of grammar. In the list of personages immorta- 
lized in the pages of the Avesta, for their sanc- 
tity, wisdom, heroism or patriotism, we observe 
a record of illustrious maidens. The 141 st. 
section of the Farvardin Tasht perpetuate the 
" holy maids Vadhut, Jaglirudh, Franghddh, 
Urudhayant, Paesanghanu, Hvaredhi, Huchi- 
thra, Kanulta,* and "the holy virgins Srutat- 
pdhri, Vanghu-fedhri, and Eredat-fedhri." (Yt. 
XIII. 141). We do not know any details 
regarding the good acts which these maidens 

i Of. Manu, IX. 29 : " She who, controlling her thoughts, 
speech and acts, violates not her duty towards her lord, dweDs 
with him (after death) in heaven, and in this world is called hy 
the virtuous a faithful wife." 


individually achieved in a congenial sphere, but 
from the fact of their names having been handed 
down to posterity, and recited in public rituals, 
with those of Zarathushtra, Frashaostra, Jamas - 
pa, Maidhyomaungha, Uzaua, Husrava, etc., we 
are doubtless authorized to assume that even in 
remote antiquity Zoroastrian maidens had exerted 
themselves, with success, in rendering their 
names immortal in this life, and their spirits 
happy in the next world. l 

* The following description of the chivalrous feats of an 
Iranian maiden, in pre- Zoroastrian time, will be of some in- 
terest. Vide Zimmern, JFirduasi, pp. 138-141. 

"Now the guardian of the White Castle, the fortress where- 
in Iran put its trust, was named Hujir, and there lived with 
him Gustahem the Brave, but he was grown old and could aid 
no longer save with his counsels. And there abode also his 
daughter Gurdafrid, a warlike maid, firm in the saddle and 
practised in the fight 

" But when those within the castle learned that their 
chief was bound, they raised great lamentation, and their 
fears were sore. And Gurdafrid, too, when she learned it, 
was grieved, but she was ashamed also for the fate of Hujir. 
So she took forth burnished mail and clad herself therein, 
and she hid her tresses under a helmet of Eoum, and she 
mounted a steed of battle and came forth before the walls like 
to a warrior. And she uttered a cry of thunder, and flung 
it amid the ranks of Turan, and she defied the champions to 
come forth to single combat. And none came, for they 

Hence Dr. Geiger says, " It would not be easy 

'beheld her how she was strong, and they knew not that it 
;tvas a woman, and they were afraid. But Sohrab, when he 
saw it, stepped forth and said 

'"I will accept thy challenge, and a second prize will fall 
into my hands.' (Because Sohrab had already defeated 
Hujir, and sent him captive xmto Human.) 

" Then he girded himself and made ready for the fight. 
And the maid, when she saw be was ready, rained arrows 
upon him with art, and they fell quick like hail, a7id whizzed 
about his head; and Sohrab, when he saw it, could not defend 
himself, and was angry and ashamed. Then he covered his 
head with his shield and ran at the maid. But she, when 
she saw him approach, dropped her bow and couched a lance, 
and thrust at Sohrab with vigour, and shook him mightily, 
and it wanted little, and she would have thrown him from 
his seat. And Sohrab was ainased, and his wrath knew no 
bounds. Then he ran at Gurdafrid with fury, and seized the 
reins of her steed, and caught her by the waist, and tore her 
arcnour, and threw her upon the ground. Yet ere he could 
raise his hand to strike her, she drew her sword and shivered 
his lance in twain, and leaped again upon her steed. And 
when she saw that the day was hers, she was weary of 
further combat, and she sped back anto the fortress. But 
Sohrab gave rein unto his horse, and followed after her in his 
great anger. And he caught her, and seized her, and tore 
the helmet from off her head, for he desired to look upon the 
face of the man who could withstand the son of Rustam. 
And lo ! when he had done so, there rolled forth from the 
helmet coils of dusky hue. and Sohrab beheld it was a 
woman that had overcome him in the fight. And he was 
confounded. But when he had found speech he said 

" ' If the daughters of Iran are like to thee, and go forth 
into battle, none can stand against this land.' ** 


to find a people that attained, under equal or 
similar historical conditions, to such a height of 
ethical knowledge." ( Vide my Translation, Vol. 
I., p. 163.) Hence Dr. Rapp is able to make 
the following observations : " The importance 
and value of this education appear, however, most 
clear by the cultivation of such qualities as mag- 
nanimity, the love of truth, justice and courage, 
whereby the Persian people have deservedly 
earned for themselves the name of a noble 
race. . .. . The insight into the moral life was 
here evidently coupled with the cultivation of 
the religious belief professed 'by the Persians, 
which helped the development of morals through 
the fostering of virtues,' and which system of 
education served to mould the essential character 
of the individual man." ( Vide Mr. K. R. Kama's 
translation of Dr. Rnpp's German work.) l 

1 Rev. J. Van den Gheyn remarks, " The Mazdian religion 
can boast of having the soundest, the sublimest, and the 
most rational system of morals among all the non-Christian 
religions. The basis of these morals rests on the free volition 
of man." (Essais, p. 231.) Vide the same idea in Dr. 
Casarte Ilia's French, p. 137, wherein the writer avers: 
" La religion mazde'enne peut se vanter avec raison, parmi 
toutes les religions non-chre*tiennes, d'avoir la moral la plus 
eaine, la plus haute et la plus raisonnable." 


Before her marriage the maiden was under the 
guardianship .of the paterfamilias, the grand- 
father or the father, the natural brother or the 
adopted son of the father. In her daily prayers 
she frequently implores that she may have a hus- 
band, and attain to fidelity in the Zoroastrian 
teachings : ({ Grant us this blessing . . that we 
may obtain a husband, young and of a beautiful 
person, who will ever offer us good gifts, who 
will live long and beget us offspring ; a good- 
natured, learned and eloquent husband." (Yt. 
XV. 40 ; cf. Vol. XXIIL, p. 258.) " Unhappy is 
the handsome maiden who has remained childless 
and wants a good husband." (Vend. III. 24.) 

The ancient Iranian ideal of female beauty 
consisted in white complexion, a tall symmetrical 
body, thin waist, sharp eyes, and small slender 
fingers. "Then approaches the handsome, physi- 
cally strong and tall maiden." (Vend. XIX. 30 ; 
cf. S. B. B., Vol. IV., p. 213.) The EadSkht 
Nask delineates " a beautiful maiden, brilliant, 
white-armed, strong, well grown, high statured, 
tall, with prominent breasts, straight, noble, 
with a dazzling face, of fifteen years." (Cf. 
Haug, Chap. II. 22, p. 311.) The female genius 
Ardvi wore " square golden ear-rings, a golden. 


necklace around her beautiful neck, and girded 
her waist tightly." (Yt. V. 127 ; vide S. B. B., 
Vol. XXIII., p. 83.) l 

The fifteenth year was the normal age of 
puberty of the male as well as of the female. 
(Ys. IX. 5; Vend. XIV. 15; XVIII. 54.) At 
this age the parents or guardians of the maiden 
would endeavour to find a suitable match for 
her. 2 As the Avesta community was made up of 

1 Here it is interesting to notice parallel ideas regarding 
female beauty in an Indian book, the Sanskrit Dasakumdra- 
charitam, by Dandin, which is believed to have been written 
about the end of the llth century, A. D. The Adventures of 
Mitragupta records an ideal of beauty in pages 186-187, of 
Mr. Parab's edition, whereof I give the purport below : 

" This is just the wife to suit me ; she is neither too tall nor 
too short, too stout or too thin ; her limbs are rounded and 
well-knit ; her back is straight ; with a slight hollow ; her 
shoulders are low ; her arms plump and soft ; the lines of her 
hands indicate good fortune ; her fingers are long and slender ; 
her nails are like polished gems ; her neck is smooth and 
rounded as a slender shell ; her bosom full and well -shaped ; 
her face has a sweet expression ; her lips are full and red ; her 
chin small and compact ; her cheeks plump ; her eyebrow 
glossy black, gracefully curved, meeting in the middle ; her 
eyes are long and languishing, very black and very white ; her 
forehead, adorned by beautiful curls, resembles a piece of the 
moon ; her ears are delicately formed, and well set off by the 
ear-rings ; her hair is glossy black, brown at the ends long ? 
thick, and not too much curled." (Vide Jacob, pp. 268 seq.) 

2 According to Letourneau, " Marriages of children, espe- 
cially of little girls, were the rule at Rome, since the nuptial 


four distinct professions the priest, the warrior, 
the agriculturist and bhe artisan (?), who held 
each his own respective rank, the parents or 
their representatives would naturally think of 
finding out a son-in-law from their own profes- 
sion, or from one that was superior to their own, 
or one of a better lineage. The marrying maiden 
was, no doubt, very careful in selecting her hus- 
band, but she had sometimes to rely upon the 
judgment of her parents. Her choice was sub- 
ject to confirmation by the latter. In very rare 
cases where the maiden had no proper guardian, 
she made a choice for herself. l 

majority of the girls was fixed at twelve years. But they were 
often betrothed and even married before that age. Vipsania 
Agrippina, daughter of Agrippa and of Pomponia, was pro- 
mised to Tiberius from her first year. The Digest authorized 
betrothal at the age of seven. In betrothing his daughter the 
father contracted a civil obligation, sanctioned at first by an 
action for damages, and later by infamy." (Evolution of 
Marriage, p. 198.) " The young Greek girl could not dispose 
of her person any more than the Chinese or Hindoo woman 
could. She was married by her father." (p. 195.) 

i In Manu, S. B. E., Vol. XXV., Chap. IX. 2-4: "Day 
and night women must be kept in dependence by the males 
(of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual 
enjoyments, they must be kept under one's control. Her 


The solicitations for the hand of a maiden were 
made through a wise and experienced friend, who 
served as an intermediary for bringing in the 
details regarding her genealogy, condition, and 
qualifications. It is to be observed that the 
ancient Iranian marriage tie was not the result of 
any capture or purchase, but of pure selection on. 
the part of the marrying individual, male or 

father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in 
youth, and her son protects (her) in old age ; a woman is never 
fit for independence. Reprehensible is the father" who gives 
riot his daughter in marriage at the proper time ; reprehensible 
is the husband who approaches not (his wife in due season) > 
and reprehensible is the son who does not protect his mother 
after her husband has died." (IX. 88-92.) "To a distin- 
guished, handsome suitor (of) equal (caste) should (a father) 
give his daughter in accordance with the prescribed rule, 
though sh has not attained (the proper age). But the maiden, 
though marriageable, should rather stop in the father's house 
until death, than that he should ever give her to a man desti- 
tute of good qualities. Three years let a damsel wait, though 
she be marriageable, but after that time let her choose for her- 
self a bridegroom of equal caste and rank. If being not given 
in marriage, she herself seeks a husband, she incurs no guilt, 
nor does he whom she weds. A maiden who chooses for 
herself, shall not take with her any ornaments, given by her 
father or her mother or her brothers ; if she carries them away, 
it will be theft." 


, subject to the confirmation of his or her 
parents or guardians. It is sufficiently clear 
that the maiden's choice did not fall upon riches 
or a man of money, but rather on a man of good 
lineage, of a good character, physically strong, 
talented, eloquent and religious. 1 As for the 
bachelor, the remarkable sayings of the Mino-i- 
Kherad are as follows: " Choose as your wife 
a woman, who possesses the accomplishments 
(pavan gohar) befitting her, because that one is a 
blessing who is very much respected (in the com- 
munity)." -(Chap. II. 30.) "A virtuous wife 
of a good behaviour aggrandizes coDJugal hap- 
piness." (XIV. 12.) " That wife is the worst 
with whom there is no possible enjoyment in this 
life/' (XXXIII. 14.) The sayings of Atropata 
dictate to his son : i( Love always a prudent 
and modest woman, and be married to such a 
one alone. Let your son-in-law be a man good- 
natured, healthy and well-experienced in his pro- 
fession, never mind though he be poor."- (Cf. 
Dastur Peshotanji's edition.) From Vendidad II. 

1 Mann, IX. 14 : " "Women do not care for beauty, nor is 
their attention fixed on age ; (thinking) ' it is enough that he 
is a man,' they give themselves to the handsome and to the 


we miglit assume a prohibition against marry- 
ing a lunatic, an indigent and an impotent 
person, an infidel or a leprous individual. 

In the 14th chapter of the Vendidad, we meet 
with the following passage which alludes to mar- 
riage as a means of atonement : 

" As an expiation he (i.e., a Zoroastrian) shall, 
with sincerity and pious feeling, give in marriage 
to a pious male (i. e., a priest) a virgin, who has 
loved no man. . . ., a sister or a daughter, at 
the age of puberty, with ear-rings in her ears and 
past her fifteenth year." (Cf. S. B. E., Vol. IV., 
p. 171.) l Though this commandment leads us 
to assume the existence of a belief that even it 
was a means of expiation, or a meritorious act, 
to persuade a pious virgin to marry a pious 
priest ; yet such marriage ties must have been 
formed rarely in a community where the exercise 
of free will (Ys. XXX. 1-2) was the principal 
factor under a Zoroastrian administration. 

1 Ward remarks that so great a disgrace is incurred by 
remaining unmarried that on one occasion a number of old 
Hindoo maids were married to an old kulina Brahman, as his 
friends were carrying him to the Ganges to die (vide Vol. III., 
p. 181). 


The latest scientific research which ha.s opened 
the secret mines of the Gathic or the most an- 
cient Zoroastrian lore, enables us to prove the. 
existence of a highly pure idea of an Iranian 
marriage. Dr. Geiger, in his German work Ost- 
iramsche Kultur, makes the following observation 
(p. 242):- 

" Contrasted with the foregoing (t.e., Vend. 
XIV. 15), a stanza in the Gathas, if rightly 
interpreted, appears to contain a higher and 
purer idea of marriage, and to regard it as an 
intimate union founded on love and piety. On 
the occasion of the celebration of a marriage, the 
priestly singer addresses, as I would believe, the 
young people with these words : 
(LIIL 5.) 


"Admonishing words I say unto the maidens, 
who will enter into marriage, 

" And to you (the youth) I, *who know it. 
Take them to heart ; 

" Learn to know through religion and of these 
(the parents) , the life of a good mind ; 

" In piety you shall both seek to win the love 
of each other, only thus will it lead you to joy | " 

The latest translation of these Avesta verses 
given by Dr. L. H. Mills in the 31st vol. of 
Max Miiller's Sacred Books of the East, runs in 
the following manner : 

" Monitions for the marrying I speak to 
(you) maidens, to you, I who know them; and 
heed ye my (sayings) : By these laws of the 
Faith which I utter, obtain ye the life of the Good 
Mind (on earth and in heaven). (And to you, 
bride and bridegroom), let each one the other in 
Righteousness cherish ; thus alone unto each shall 
the home-life be happy. " 


The latter version is more in conformity with 
the Pahlavi, and will be more intelligible if we 
refer to the previous verse in the same Gatha. 

(LIII. 3-4.) 


" And him" (i. e., the bridegroom, Jamaspa) 
"will they give thee, Pouruchista, Haechat- 
aspid and Spitami ! Young (as thou art) of the 


daughters of Zarathustra, him will he (i.c^ the 
bride's father) give thee as a help in the Good 
Mind's true service, of Asha's and Mazda's, as a 
protector and a guardian. Counsel well then 
(together), with the mind of Armaiti, most boun- 
teous and pious ; and act with just action." (The 
bride Pouruchista answers:) "I will love and 
vie with him (i. e., the bridegroom ), since from 
(my) father he gained (me.)" (Vide Vol. XXXI. 

These remarkable verses (3-5) of the 53rd 
Chapter of the Yasna or of the Gatha Vahish- 
tdiMi form a surviving remnant of the oldest 
marriage formulae that were addressed, by the 
greatest of Iranian priests and poets, Zarathush- 
tra Spitama, to the bride and the bridegroom, 
on the occasion of the marriage ceremony of his 
youngest daughter Pouruchishta ("full of wis- 
dom") with the Iranian philosopher Jamaspa. 1 
These stanzas inculcate to us the oldest Iranian 
doctrine regarding the noble ends of a pious 
wedlock. The bridegroom, as it seems, is given 

1 See my lectures on the " Alleged Practice of Next-of-Kin 
Marriages in old Iran," delivered, in April 1887, before the 
B. B. Royal Asiatic Society, in the Society's Journal, 
No. XLVL, p. 134. 


over to the bride to help her in the conscientious 
service of Piety, Righteousness (Asha), and Com- 
munion with the Deity. It is the duty of the 
two to love one another, with the mind of devo- 
tion (Armaiti), with chastity and truth. The 
marital love was doubly strengthened by the 
lover's choice having been confirmed by their 
parents or guardians, so Pouruchishta the bride 
answers: "I will (now) love and vie with him (in 
love)." The fifth stanza impresses upon 
the minds of the assembly that it is the reli- 
gious sentiment of devotion to the Deity which 
leads us to the path of love. Mutual connu- 
bial love is bred by a sincere devotion of the 
husband towards the wife, and conveys them to 
the enjoyment of the pure joys of a happy 

These moral ideas relating to wedlock are also 
implied in the verbs vadh, vaz and vah, which 
commonly denote in Indo-Iranian dialects "to 
marry," "to have connubial relations." These 
verbs radically mean "to lead," " to convey.'' 
W e do not know the nature of the ceremony by 
which the bride was led to the house of the 
bridegroom in the Avesta period, but it is in- 


teresting to find in the 85th SuJeta of the tenth 
Mandala of the Rig- Veda, a figurative descrip- 
tion of how the bride Sury was led to her hus- 
band's home. Therein we are told that it was in 
the chariot of the mind that Surya was driven, 
the bullocks yoked to it were the sun and the 
moon (i. e., light or piety,) and the wheels were 
her ears. * Hence we might draw a parallel 
between the marital conception of the Vedic 
Indians and that of the Avestic Iranians. It 
was an instinct of pious love which drove the 
heart of a maiden to find her complement in the 
male sex and enter into the sacred bonds of 
marriage. 2 (Comp. Schrader, Sprach verglei- 
diung. Chap, on " Marriage.") 

I now proceed to the social position of the wife 
among the primitive Zoroastrians. The common 
Avesta words which mean the wife are ghena, 
ndiri and nmdno-pathni. The first word means, 

1 In Becker's Gharieles we find that the Grecian bride was 
" fetched away towards evening by the bridegroom in a carriage 
drawn by mules or oxen, and probably by horses." (p. 485.) 

2 We find interesting details of the Roman ceremony of 
conducting the bride to the home of the bridegroom in Prof. 
Becker's Gallus or Roman Scenes of the Time of Augustus. 
This writer observes that the ceremonious fetching of the bride 
from her parental house to that of the bridegroom, called 


etymologically, " a begetter of children," "a 
bearer/' or " a mother." The second is a simple 
feminine form of the wordnere, "a male/' "a man," 
"a hero." The third literally denotes 'the lady 
or mistress of the house' as the husband is gene- 
rally called in the Avesta ' the lord or master of 
the house/ (Yt. V. 87; XV. 40.) Herein lies a 

deductio, took place in all kinds of marriages. This ceremony 
regularly occurred in the evening, under the protection of Juno 
Domiduca, by torchlight and accompanied by relations and 
friends, amongst whom were women who conducted the bride 
to the thalamus nuptialis, and who were permitted to have been 
only once married. The bride having arrived at the house of 
the bridegroom festively adorned to receive her, ornamented 
the doorposts with lanece vittce and annointed them with oleum . 
Equally general was the custom of carrying the bride over the 
threshold in order to avoid the bad omen of stumbling with 
her foot on it. First, the bride saluted the bridegroom ; the 
latter replied to this address of the former in an equally mea- 
sured symbolical form. The bridegroom received the bride 
with water and fire, and presented these two elements to her 
touch. Next followed the religious solemnities under the direc- 
tion of the Pontifex Maximus and the Flamen Pialis, in the 
presence of ten witnesses. The auspices were also taken. The 
joint-eating of bread by the newly married was necessary ; 
also the joining together of hands by the priest. The newly 
married cquple sat for a time on two chairs standing near to 
each other and covered by the same sheep -skin, signifying 
that, although the man and the woman occupied two different 
parts of the house, that they were nevertheless firmly bound 
by one common bond. At the celebration of the wedding a 
contract of marriage concerning the dos was entered into and 
sealed by thpse present as witnesses (see pp. 160 seq.}. 


linguistic proof for the assumption that in the 
Avesta period the position of the Iranian wife 
was one of equality to that of her husband. A 
second argument may be alleged from the exis- 
tence of the expression pithe for the wedded pair 
in Yt. X. 84 (comp. Ost. Kultur, p. 245; 
Spiegel's Commentar, Vol. II., pp. 566-567 ; C. 
de Harlez, Au. tr. t p. 236), which enables us to 
presume that the rights and interests of the 
husband and the wife were identical, and that 
the latter did not stand in the relation of a slave 
or a mere " bearer of children" to the former. 
In Yasna LXVIII. 12, the husband and the wife 
together pray to God and implore for help. 
Before submitting more important points con- 
cerning the high position the Zoroastrian wife 
enjoyed in ancient Iran, I would draw your 
attention to what foreign European writers have 
said on the authority of the earliest literature 
now extant. The latest German work that speaks 
upon it is the Ostiranische Kultur im Alter turn, 
from which I translate the following passages : 

" It is characteristic, as bearing upon the legal 
and moral position of the wife in the old Iranian 
house, that she bears from the marriage-day the 


title of nmfino pathni, e tlie mistress of the house/ 
just as the husband is called nmano-paiti, f the 
master of the house.' The wife ranks thus more 
as the equal of the husband than his dependent. 
She is not his slave but his companion, entitled 
to all his privileges, sharing with him the direc- 
tion and management of the household. 

" In the A vesta both sexes appear constantly 
as possessing equal rights ; there is no difference 
as to their respective importance. Pious men 
and women are frequently named together. As 
in this world, so also in the next, they live 
together, enjoying in common the pleasures of 
Paradise. Wives are an honour to the house, 
and the good spirits, particularly Ahura Mazda, 
are represented as being in the company of 
female Yazatas. 

" As in the Vedic antiquity, so also amongst 
the Avesta people, women took part even in 
the holy ceremonies and solemn offerings. 1 The 
ladies of the house who cherish good thoughts, 

1 Cf. Manu, IX. 96 : " To be mothers were women created 
and to be fathers men ; religious rites, therefore, are ordained 
in the Veda to be performed by the husband together with the 


utter good words, and perform good actions, 
who are obedient and subject to their lords, are 
invited in the Vispered at the offering ceremony 
equally with pious and orthodox men. Further 
on it is said that both wife and husband naturally 
pray together, with uplifted hands, to Mithra 
for his protection and support. The following 
remarkable saying of the Big- Veda is also in 
accordance with Iranian custom: 'Already from 
olden time the wife has attended the common 
sacrificial offerings and festive gatherings, she, 
the fosterer of the holy law.' " 

This opinion, which is shared in by almost all 
Iranists, may be further connrmed by references 
to the Avesta statements that the Zoroastrian 
wife is capable of vieing with her husband in 
acquiring moral and spiritual virtues, and is a 
co-operator with him in helping forward the pro- 
gress of humanity by ardent efforts to suppress 
evil of every kind in this world. (Yt. XIII. 
154.) Wherever the Avesta alludes to pious 
males, it does not omit to make mention of 
females of like character. It speaks of a pious 
co-operation of the husband and the wife in the 
propitiation of God (Yasna, I., 16 ; XIV. 7, etc.), 


of just men and just women (Ys. VIII. 3 ; XVI. 

9; LXXI. 10), of male and female saints. (Ys. 
V. 27; II., LVIII. 5.) The sixteenth Yasht 
records the earnest prayer of a Zoroastrian wife 
that she may not swerve for a moment from the 
Law of God. This represents to us that in her 
heart the lady sincerely wishes that she would be 
able to discharge her moral and religious duties 
amidst the material associations of|this world. In 
the same section we are told that she worshipped 
" endowed with full knowledge" (vMushi 
vohu-banghem) of the ceremony. Again in Yasht 
XV. 36, the materfamilias seems to wish that her 
respect in the family would remain intact ; that 
she would be loved, and respected by her hus- 
band, and become praiseworthy amongst her 
relations, (Of., S. B. E., Vol. XXIIL, p. 257). 

Above all, we observe the poet Zoroaster pray- 
ing in a rhythmical strain to the God Ahura 
Mazda, that the virtuous and noble Hutaosa, the 
wife of King Vishtaspa, may exert herself to assist 
him in propagating amongst her sex the moral 
and spiritual culture of which he was the great 
pioneer and teacher. (Yt. IX. 26; XVII. 46.) l 

1 Hence Prof. Darmesteter remarks that "the moral victory 
of Zoroastrianism is the work of a woman, and that no picture 
of woman is nobler and higher than that which is drawn in 
the Avesta." 


In the thirteenth Yasht we meet with a sacred 
enumeration of wives and husbands whose names 
are immortalized for their spontaneous efforts in 
saving humanity from moral and physical depra- 
vity. Hvovi, Freni, Thriti, PouruMsta, Hutaosa, 
Hiima,, ZairiM, Vupataurvashi, Ushtavaiti, 
Tushnamaiti t Freni the wife of Usenemdh, Freni 
the daughter-in-law of Frayazanta, Freni the 
daughter-in-law of Khshoiwrdspa, Freni the wife 
of Gayadhdsti, Asabani the wife of Pourudhdkh- 
shti, and Ukhshyeinti the wife of Staotar-Vahish- 
tahe-Ashyehe (189-140), are the illustrious names 
that remind us of the golden age of Iranian his- 
tory when women served with a pious motive as 
preachers, warriors and patriots of their country. 
In 148, 149, and 154 the spirits of those 
women are invoked who had fought all their 
lives for the good of mankind, for the good cause 
of that spiritual progress which Zoroastrianism 
aims at. In a later Pahlavi treatise we find the 
nine daughters of Spitama receiving precious 
rewards from Iranian rulers as a recognition of 
their help in the spiritual advancement of their 


In the scanty fragments of the oldest Iranian 
literature we do not find a detailed picture of a 
famous woman ; but we can easily trace her work 
from the virtues and qualities for which right- 
eous women have been so frequently extolled. 

The duties of a woman in the Avesta period 
were, therefore, not simply confined to the econo- 
mical functions of her household, but they had 
an important bearing upon the moral and spiritual 
progress of the Avesta nation. Her training had 
rendered her capable of serving not only as a 
moral teacher to her own children, but also to 
her own sex. What should we assume to be the 
result of the enjoyment of such a position by the 
Zoroastrian mother, wife, or daughter, more than 
three thousand years ago ? 

Regarding the question whether polygamy or 
monogamy prevailed in Iran in the Avesta period, 
there is no direct passage which favours the one 
or the other. From some indirect references 
Prof. C. de Harlez briefly remarks : "La poly- 
gamie ne semble pas y avoir ete admise'' * (vide 

1 Belying upon the authority of de Harlez, the French 
translator of the Avesta, Ch. Letourneau says in his " Evolution 
of Marriage," London, 1891 (p. 150) : " The polygamy of 
the monarchs of ancient Persia seems to have been copied from 
that of the kings of Egypt, or of the Incas of Peru. As for 


p. 172); while Dr. Geiger says: * Leider fehlt 

es im Avesta wieder an positiven zeugnissen 
sowohl nach der einen als auch nach der anderen 
seite bin, und wir iniissen uns demnach fast nur 
rnit indirekten beweisen und analogieschliissen 
behelfen. Sohne und frauen gelten als schmuck 
eines hauses und die getter schenken sie dem 
frommen in fiille. Hierin konnte man eine 
andeutung sehen, nach welcher poligamie iiblich 
gewesen und eine grosse anzahl von frauen als 
zeichen der wohlhabenlieit und des himmlischen 
segens betrachtet worden ware.' " Unfortu- 
nately there is a lack of positive testimony as 
much concerning the one as concerning the other, 
and we must, therefore, content ourselves with 
merely indirect proofs and conclusions drawn 
from analogy. Sons and wives are esteemed as 
an ornament to a house and the yazatas bestow 
them upon the pious in abundance. This might 

the Persians of more ancient times still, the Mazdians who 
drew up the Sacred code of the Avesta, if we refer to the Zend 
text, we find they had a most severe sexual morality. The 
Avestic code condemns and punishes resort to prostitutes, 
seduction, sexual extravagances, abortion, etc. Throughout 
that portion of the Avesta, which has come down to us, there 
is no recognition of polygamy, and the verses which mention 
marriage have quite a monogamic meaning." 


be construed as an indication that polygamy was 
customary, and a great number of women a mark 
of opulence and Divine blessing." (V. p. 68 of 
my Translation, Vol. I.) My remark on this 
conclusion is that it is now as inadmissible as the 
rendering " abundance of women" (in Dr. Spie- 
gel's German Translation of the Avesta) for the 
expression frapithwo nairika, is inadmissible. 
The second word is the nominative singular 
feminine and refers to a single woman or the 
mistress of the house. The whole expression 
would rather mean "( where) the wife is well 
nourished or happy/' Even if we were to regard 
the expression as meaning " many women or 
wives," still it would not imply the wives of a 
single man, but a number of married women 
living in the same house. Here I have to repeat 
what I have already stated in my note on page 
68 of my English Translation : Just as is the 
case in Parsee families in India, so also in the 
age of the Avesta we may conceive a Zoroastrian 
family as having married daughters, daughters- 
in-law, and even grand-daughters-in-law with the 
materfamilias at their head, all forming a group 
of more than a dozen women. Even the very 


nature of the marriage ideas which are inculcated 
in the Gathas, and which I have just mentioned, 
does not authorize us to assume any trace of 
polygamy among nations that flourished amidst 
very civilized surroundings. J 

It is possible that in later times associations 
with foreign nations, Mahomedans or Hindoos, 
might have introduced the practice of polygamy 
into the Zoroastrian community, but, so far as 
the Avesta period is concerned, there has been no 
mention of two wives belonging to one man nor 
any allusion even far-fetched to that practice. 2 

1 ' ' Where women have succeeded in obtaining some power 
over their husbands, or where the altruistic feelings of men have 
become refined enough to lead them to respect the feelings of 
those weaker than themselves, monogamy is generally consi-> 
dered the only proper form of marriage." (Wester., p. 500.) 

2 From the works of Greek writers Dr. Friedrich Spiegel 
makes the folio whig deductions in the 3rd vol. of Ms German 
work, Eranische Alter tumskunde, p. 377 seq. In the time of 
Herodotus, Persians practised polygamy (Her. I. 135), and 
according to Strabo, the Median kings married many wives, 
and the Medians dwelling in the mountainous districts had 
no less than five wives (XI. 526). Polyandry was also not rare 
among them. Polygamy of the Iranians is supported by 
Ammianus, Agathias and the Shahndtnah. 


Illegal union between the sexes was condemned 
as a mortal crime. (Vend. XVIII. 62-65.) l A 
bad woman was unfit to offer any prayer. (Yt. 
XVII. 54.) t( Stand thou not near her, sit tliou 
not by her side," is the exhortation to woman 
in Sec. 57 of the 17th Yasht. Infanticide was 
strictly prohibited. (Vend. XV. 11-14; Yt. 
XXV. 29.) The destruction of the fruit of 
adultery in the womb, by means of drugs, was 
regarded as wilful murder, and was by law 
punishable as such. The sinful woman, her 
paramour and the procurer of drugs, were sup- 
posed to be equally guilty of killing the child. 
The illegitimate offspring ought to be fed and 
brought up at the expense of the male sinner, 
until it becomes seven years of age. (Vend. 
XV. 45.) A sorceress is an accursed creature. 
Disobedience towards the husband is a shameful 
crime. Failure to preserve one's health in a lying- 
in state is also a sin. (Vend. VII., &c.) A 
later Pahlavi book calls it a sin liable to hellish 
punishment if a mother fails to suckle her baby 

i "Thou shouldst abstain from the wives of others," ad- 
raonislies the Mino-i-KMrad, " otherwise you will consume 
three things: the wealth, thg body, and the soul at once." 


or to feed it on her pure milk, or if she steals the 
property of her husband or disobeys her sove- 
reign. 1 It is disgraceful if the husband fails to 
instruct his wife, and does not keep her away from 
doing evil acts (V'traf, Chaps. 87, 63, 99, 68). 

My subject has now come to an end. The 
successful results of the system, of training 
imparted to the Zoroastrian wife and of her high 
position and work in the ancient Iranian com- 
munity, may be easily marked in the moral 
growth and physical welfare of the nation under 
the sovereignty of the Zoroastrian monarch 
Vishtaspa (Gushtasp). "Let France have good 
mothers and she will have good sons, 5 ' was a 
happy remark of the Emperor Napoleon. The 
literary attainments of the mother, her fitness to 
perform her household duties, her example of a 
moral and religious life, are more beneficial to 
posterity, to the future progress of a nation, than 
the impressions produced by the father. Moral 
and religious instruction ought, therefore, to 

1 Manu, IX. 13 : " Drinking spirituous liquor, associating 
with wicked people, separation from the husband, rambling 
abroad, sleeping at unseasonable hours, and dwelling in other 
men's houses, are the six causes of the ruin of women." 


form the chief element in the education of women 
of every country ; for without religion there is no 
moral obligation, and without the sense of a 
moral obligation, no sympathy or unity with the 
family, race, or community. 

I beg to submit a few remarks which have 
been suggested to me by this humble attempt at 
discoursing upon the position of Zoroastrian 
women in remote antiquity. The first refers to 
the question : " Why did the lecturer omit to 
throw some light upon the alleged practice of 
next-of-kin marriages in ancient Iran, which had 
been emphasized by several European writers 
as the darkest shade in the picture of woman 
drawn in the Avesta ? " My answer to this is 
that the pros and cons regarding the alleged 
practice of consanguineous marriages among the 
Iranians of remote antiquity have been fully 
discussed by me in my papers on this subject, 
which I had the honour to read before the 
Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 
April 1887, under the presidency of the honour- 
able chairman. The European standpoint rests 
upon a meaning of the Avesta word Hvaetva- 
datha, which, as has been shown by me ; does not 

indicate lt next-of-kin marriages/' but " the 
spiritual communion of the husband and the 
wife with the Deity." It is a pleasure to notice 
scholars like Hubschmann, Geiger and Justi 
conceding that the Avesfca contains no allusions 
to the alleged next-of-kin marriages among the 
ancient Iranians. 

The second point I may be allowed to touch 
upon, is the absence of the brilliant ideas of 
marriage I have just quoted from the Gathas, in 
the marriage-formulge recited in India. The 
present formulae embody a double benediction 
in two different languages, viz., Pazand and 
Sanskrit, including, about the end, three short 
citations from the Avesta Yasna, Chaps. L1X. 
30-31, LIV. 1* and LXVIII. 11 I humbly sub- 
mit that a lucid and rhythmical Gujerati version 
of the original Pazand be substituted for the 
present incorrect and often unmeaning Sanskrit 

* Under the present circumstances a revision of the Pazand 
text is, of course, indispensable, for there is no meaning 
whatever in putting a question to the following effect, to the 
witness representing the party of the bridegroom: "Have 
you promised to pay to the bride two thousand dirhams of 
pure white silver, 'and two dinars of bright gold of the city 
of Nish&hpur," when no such coins have ever been, or are 
current, in India. Every such witness confirming, as he does, 
this absurd promise in his evidence, becomes, from a legal 
stand-point, guilty of unconscious mithro-druja (perjury). 


translation that is recited during the marriage- 
ceremony. It is highly desirable that some 
necessary insertions be made into the present 
formulae of apt passages in the Gathas LIII. 2-5 
that interpret very noble ideas regarding matri- 
mony, and the mutual duties of the husband 
and the wife. 

From the authority of the Avesta we learn that 
in the remotest Zoroastrian period the names of 
illustrious maidens, as well as of philanthropic 
women, were recorded or immortalized with those 
of eminent men. But since the Zoroastrian im- 
migration into India, no such honour has been 
accorded to the Parsee ladies, who had, to a great 
extent, fulfilled the noble object of sympathizing 
with the difficulties of their co-religionists, and of 
helping forward their physical, educational and 
religious progress. We ought to hand down to 
posterity our respectful remembrance of the 
noblest deeds of Lady Avanbai Jamshedjee 
Jeejeebhai, and the charitable acts of Bai 
Mithibai Hormusji Wadia,* and Lady 8akarbai 
Dinshahjee Petit. Such a record of noble 
women will, I trust, tend to encourage female 
charity, and be conducive to the good of the 
suffering humanity. 

* One of the eminent founders of the Hornmsjee Wadia 
Atash-Behram at Bombay. 

* ANT/A 


[Extracted from the report of the " Times 

of India."] 

If I am not trespassing upon your time, I 
should like to say something about the interest- 
ing address, and offer just a few of the many 
remarks it suggests in the way of comparison 
with other systems, and perhaps also some prac- 
tical suggestions that may be derived from the 
most interesting picture of ancient Zoroastrian 
civilization, which the lecturer has so lucidly 
placed before us. We find in the early writings 
of the Avesta, or of the Pehelvi literature with 
which I cannot claim any acquaintance, but 
which the learned lecturer has so well and so 
deeply studied a bright and a joyous picture of 
feminine activity in the early world, which is 
repeated also in other early literatures as, for 
instance, the Vedic literature, which is as inter- 
esting a subject to study for European scholars 
as is the Homeric and Hesiodic literature of 
Greece, and which present some striking resem- 


blances. We find -in it also a picture of the early 
world wherein had existed a much greater free- 
dom and joy to the female sex than was the case 
at a later period, when wealth had accumulated 
and luxury had been increased, and when for 
certain classes women became more the objects 
of sensual delight. In the progress of organiza- 
tion and refinement amongst the ancient Greeks, 
we find that women, notwithstanding the extra- 
ordinary gifts of the people and their capacity 
to master most of the problems that interest 
mankind, were assigned a position which was 
immeasurably inferior to that assigned to them 
amongst the Romans. This hacl much to do with 
the different destinies of the two nations. 

As was observed by me in another place on 
a former occasion, when the same lecturer gave 
a discourse on '< The Alleged Next-of-kin 
Marriages among the Zoroastrians of Ancient 
Times," the Romans assigned their wives a very 
high place ; they occupied an equal position, 
at any rate, in the household with the fathers 
ancl sons, although legally a father took his wife 
under his command and his dominion, both 
morally and socially. Livi and other historians 


speak of women as occupying an equal place 
with men, and in some instances they speak 
of their virtues and their capacity almost in the 
same strain as they speak of their heroes and 
their statesmen. But a remarkable change takes 
place afterwards, and that is to my mind the 
most interesting portion of the whole history of 
the position of women in ancient times. 

Lawyers are well acquainted with the two 
common and sacred modes of marriage amongst 
the Romans, but there is a third mode, a charac- 
teristic of which is that a wife by absenting her- 
self for three nights in the year retained complete 
freedom from marital control. The union of 
things divine and human between the spouses 
was thereby reduced almost to a mere dissoluble 
contract. The sense of Sanctity was lost, and 
reparations came to be looked on as most ordi- 
nary events. Roman women, like other women, 
could not bear the strain of so great temptation. 
We find that, at a later period, in the time of the 
Roman Emperors, this led to dissoluteness and 
brazen-faced licentiousness, which probably had 
never been equalled in all history. I rather 
think that, no matter how accomplished the 


women may be, and whatever advantages they 
may derive from their independence and posses- 
sion of property, and their capacity to rule their 
own interests, if they have no husband with 
authority in reserve, no dominating but kind 
hand to exercise control or command over their 
moral nature, they almost inevitably sink; and, 
their moral nature falling, the whole character 
of the nation they belong to, also share the 

We know that Tacitus spoke half satirically 
in describing the Germans and the position he 
assigned to their women in his great work called 
the Germania. In extolling the Germans and 
the German women he reproached his own people. 
Yet there was a basis of reality, and women in 
the ideas of the Teutons were especially blessed 
by Heaven. This elevation of women brought 
about an elevation of the whole people, who in 
the end swallowed up the degenerate Romans. 

The Teutonic race overflowed into Rome, but 
in the meantime a germ of a great revival was 
sown. Christianity made its influence felt in 
the Roman world, chiefly through women, who 
felt in its divine system, or the strength of its 


diffusive thought, a control and a support for 
which their erring and weary souls were longing 
amid the vain pleasures of thoughtless vice and 
dissipation, and ill-used independence. Out of 
the long night of decay sprang forth the institu- 
tion of chivalry, and womanly thought in a 
fanciful way was once more worshipped. Much 
of the good, as also of the extravagancy of those 
ages, is due to the position assigned to the Holy 
Virgin in Christian worship, or at any rate in 
Christian reverence. This is another interesting 
phase in the history of women and women's 
influence in the world. Yet, side by side with 
this semi-mystic adoration of pure womanhood 
and motherhood, that pernicious spirit of asceti- 
cism was working, which has been the bane of 
Christianity. Happiness and joy became inci- 
dental, temptations were regarded as essentially 
sinful, and women, being looked on once more 
as a source of delight, were deemed ministers of 
evil. The baseness which misused their society 
and their fine sympathies, was ascribed to wo- 
men. Their spiritual and intellectual capacities 
were put upon a far too low a level, and they suf- 
fered from it for centuries. Their education in 


any worthy sense was comparatively neglected, 
until the Renaissance with its outburst of new 
ideas and new desires, involved them in its great 
intellectual current, and brought them to their 
former relative position. 

But the development, though great and fruit- 
ful, was yet in a measure one-sided: female 
education at that time followed very much the 
lines of male education, and actually in the 
fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeeth centuries 
there were female professors, and very eminent 
ones too, at the Universities, especially in Italy. 
We observe, too, that amongst the women of 
rank of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
many were scholars who could hold their own 
with a great many of the gentlemen who were 
turned out of the Universities. But what I wish 
to impress upon you is that this system, though 
apparently so brilliant in results, yet, after trial 


for a time, proved barren and unfruitful, and 
that because the right system had not been 
adopted. Under the new stimulus many excep- 
tional women equalled or excelled many men, 
yet as a purely virile education was given, the 
mass dropped back from pedantry into frivolity. 


No really effective discipline took the place 
of classical study, and except where religious 
enthusiasm illuminated the dormant faculties, 
the education of women became defective and 
conducive to a petty insignificant position. 

After a long interval in England came the 
religious revival at the end of the last and the 
beginning of the present century, and by force 
of religion and their attachment to the position 
which religion had assigned to them, women 
once more laid hold on a true means of elevation 
and development. They felt a brand held out 
to them, a stay to lean on, a welcome voice of 
sternness commanding a pursuit of higher aims. 
Equality in this spiritual sphere was attained 
once more. Then came the moral and emotional 
instruction imparted by our mothers and grand- 
mothers, from which their country has derived 
an inestimable good. All this ought to show us 
that there is something to be done besides in- 
structing women in mere learning. Equality of 
education does not mean identity of education as 
between women and men. It means a recogni- 
tion of some great differences and an equal 
unfolding of the gifts of each sex. 


From the interesting paper read this evening, 
it appears that this matter was not overlooked by 
the ancient Iranians^ who brought up a girl to 
fill a place which she was to occupy as a wife and 
mother. They did not make, or attempt to make, 
of her a rival with her father or her brother in 
riding a horse, or in drawing a bow the special 
accomplishments of the Persians as described by 
historians but they cultivated in her the qualities 
and accomplishments which would fit her for a 
particular station in life, which she was required 
to fill, and the distinctions as well as the agree- 
ments between the sexes. Thus the great value of 
a worthy human life was letter fitted out, and 
each sex aiding each, a noble race sprung up. 
Such sketches as those placed before us by the 
learned lecturer must at once find a way to your 
inmost sympathies as relating to your own people, 
to those whose blood still flow in your veins. It 
has the element of reality, though perhaps highly 
toned, and, therefore, the picture placed before us 
by the learned lecturer, must have for all Par sees 
an inestimable value. It does not give any mere 
abstract view entertained by philosophers or 
scholars ; it tells us what your race has done 


already and ivhat, therefore, it is certain your 
race can do again. We feel a sense of unity with 
our ancestors, and are drawn into an imitation not 
of any abstract ideal. There is something which 
is practical, and ivhich we can determine to carry 
out to the benefit of ourselves and our people.* 

A woman's education, as one might gather 
from all this history, must in a measure be sup- 
plemental, or, if you will have it, complemental 
to the education of the man. Shakespeare, who 
has got something appropriate to say on most 
subjects, says of the bridegroom and the bride : 
' He is the half part of a nobleman and she a 
fair divided excellence, whose fulness of perfec- 
tion dwells in him/ Similar words, or even 
more eloquent, are also found in Tennyson's 
beautiful poem, ' The Princess/ which I recom- 
mend every Parsee lady to read and study. 
Women in a large degree have to fill a sphere of 
human life, which the male sex cannot fill up, 
and how they are to do it, is a matter which 
ought to be most carefully studied by all inter- 
ested not only in the progress of the Parsee 
community, but in the progress of the human 
race. There is much yet to learn, the distinctive 


points have yet to be clearly made out. No 
complete theory of female education has been 
framed, still it is plain that noble-minded women, 
great yet feminine, were reared and trained 
amidst the ignorance and levity by which they 
were surrounded. I recommend, therefore, all 
interested in the subject to endeavour to see 
what method has been applied in these success- 
ful instances, and from that to deduce a theory 
or a set of rules practical rules by which 
similar results may be obtained in other cases. 

One thing is certain that greater attention 
must be paid to the moral and emotional, the 
imaginative and spiritual faculties in women than 
in men. Their intellectual development often 
depends on it, and all their gifts are mingled in 
a complexity very different from the standard 
male character to which male education is adapt- 
ed. Religious tenderness, admiration of high 
ideals, a love of self-sacrifice are all of compara- 
tively easy development in well-disposed girls. A 
woman who has been thus brought up, becomes a 
centre of moral light, radiating noble sentiments 
and high feelings in the families which she is to 
rear and take care of in after life a teacher of 


truths and principles treasured as sacred Inj her 
children, and linked in their memories for ever 
with all that has been halloived and revered in the 

Thus, with knowledge and power in their 
hands, the fathers of the Parsee women, the 
fathers of the Indian women, and the fathers of 
the women of the whole British Empire, can 
make them the centres of enlightenment, and 
greater men and greater women will spring up, 
a crowning race of human kind mightier and 
nobler than any we have seen in the past. I 
trust that every portion of the society of this 
great Empire will resolve to take its part in so 
lofty an enterprise. I am certain if they do this 
they will supplement nobly and grandly that 
work, those functions of a University, which I 
have feebly striven quite recently to pourtray. 
These are wofks which should be carried on in 
parallel lines, with far-reaching faith, self-sacri- 
fice and resolution, with a firm determination 
that in the accomplishment of that work none 
of those engaged in it, will prove unworthy or 
fall short of the duty to which he is called, in the 
station in which he is placed. 

[Report of the Proceedings of the 
ing, extracted from the " Times of 
India" dated the 20th of April 1892.] 

Mr. Darab Dastur Peshotan Sanjana, a well 
known Oriental Scholar, delivered a lecture 
on Monday afternoon, at the Bai Bhikaijee 
Shapoorjee Bengaliee School, on ( "The Position 
of Zoroastrian Women in Remote Antiquity." 
There was a large and appreciative audience."* 

* [There were present : Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhai, Bart., 
C.S.I., Shams -ul-Ulama Dastur Dr. Peshotanjee Behramjee 
Sanjana, Dr. D. MacDonald, Rev. Mr. Scott, Messrs. Sorab- 
jee Shapurjee Bengalee, C.I.E., Jamshedjee Nasarwanjee 
Tata, Kavasjee Kharshedjee Jamshedjee, Jamsedjee Bahmanjee 
Wadia, Jamshedjee Kharshedjee Jamshedjee, Jamshedjee 
Ardashir Wadia, Phirozshah Merwanjee Mehta, Kharshedjee 
Rustomjee Cama, Hormusjee Dadabhai, Shapurjee K. Sanjana 
(Barrister), Dr. and Miss J. G-erson da Cunha, Dr. Atmaram 
Pandurang, Khan Bahadur Cursetjee Manockjee Cursetjee, 
Miss Serene Manockjee Kharshedjse, Khan Bahadur and Mrs. 
Phiroze Hoshangjee Dastur, Khan Bahadur Kaikhushro Hor- 
musjee Alpaiwala, Khan Bahadur Cavasjee Jamshedjee Lal- 
kaka, Mr. and Mrs. Kavasjee Dadabhai Dubash, Mr. and Mrs. 
Nanabhai Nassarwanjee, Messrs. Jamshedjee Cursetjee Cama, 
Nassarwanjee Byramjee Secretary, Rustomjee P. Karkaria, 
Hormasjee Kuvarjee Sethna, Pestonjee Kuvarjee Sethna, 
Shehriarji Dadabhai Bharucha, Jivanjee Jamshedjee Modi, 
Darashah Ruttonjee Chichgar, Nanabhai Ratanjee Chichgar, 


On the motion of Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, 
Bart., C. S. I., seconded by Mr. Sorabjee S. 
Bengallee, C.I.E., the Hon'ble Sir Eaymond 
West, G-.C.I.E., LL.D., was called to the chair. 

Having been briefly introduced by the Chair- 
man, Mr. Darab proceeded to address the meet- 
ing. In the course of his remarks he said : 

( Vide Lecture on pages 1 to 50,) 
Mr. Hormusjee Dadabhoy proposed a vote 
of thanks to Mr. Sanjana for the very able and 
interesting discourse which they had the pleasure 
of listening to that evening. It was, he said, as 
remarkable for the depth of research as for the 
conciseness of language in which it was expres- 
sed. The formulas addressed to the bride and 
the bridegroom at the marriage of Porochist, 
afforded a beautiful example of the mental cul- 
ture and refinement to which the Indo-Iranic 
nations had attained in the Avestic period 
stretching back to remote antiquity about three 

Nanabhai Rustomjee Ranina, Fardunjee J. Parukh, Byramjee 
Nasarwanjee Seervai, Pallonjee Burjorjee Desai, Kharshedjee 
Maneckjee Kharshedjee, Mancherjee Eduljee Morris, Bahman- 
jee Jamsedjee Wadia, Hormusjee Jehangir, Bomonjee Byram- 
jee Patel, Dady Homejee Dady Sett, Navroji C. Daji, Meherji- 
bhai Pallonjee Madan, and several others.] 


thousand years before the Christian era. " Him 
will they give thee." As what or for what pur- 
pose ? " As a help." Not in the sense of help- 
mate only. " As a help in the true service of a 
good mind/' The bride in the fulness of her 
heart and joy responded with a maiden delicacy 
and tenderness : " I will love him and vie with 
him in love." And mark the reverence paid to 
parents in that age : "I will love him because 
my father has ratified my choice." These exalted 
sentiments relating to connubial love, were not 
inculcated to the marrying couple now-a-days. 
He doubted whether any Teutonic race which 
had been always conspicuous for its veneration 
of the female sex, entertained loftier ideas of the 
marriage state than those embodied in the Gathas 
of Zoroaster, 

"A perfect woman, nobly planned, 
To warn, to comfort, and command." 

These were not the vain effusions of a poet or 
recluse who had no concern in matters of every- 
day life. These sentiments had pervaded all 
classes, judging from the fragmentary character 
of Gathic writings. The most conclusive proof 
of the truth of this remark, was afforded by a 

cursory survey of the Persian Monarchy during 
the Sassanian epoch. It was an age of religious 
revival. The traces of the Macedonian conquest 
had well nigh been obliterated. The coins and 
engravings all pointed to a state of society not 
dissimilar to that of Christian nations in the 
West at the present day. Both sexes freely 
participated in the chase of beasts, in feasts and 
festivals, in sports and pastimes. In one respect 
the older nation was far in advance of modern 
times. Females were as capable of performing 
religious functions as men, and their efficacy was 
the same. The names of maidens and married 
women who had performed deeds of valour and 
patriotism, or accomplished the regeneration of 
their country by a life-long devotion, or propa- 
gated the Zoroastrian faith, were enrolled in, 
and recited with, the list of illustrious men. It 
would be a good thing if this ancient and whole- 
some custom were revived among the Parsees. 
It proves that socially, morally, and intellectually 
the sexes enjoyed equal rights and privileges. 
The discourse contained many topics worthy of 
a careful discussion, but he must stop there, as 
the honourable Chairman was expected to dwell 


on the subject at some length, and who was 
better qualified to handle the matter, or with a 
greater affluence of illustrations, than he. (Loud 

Mr. K. E. Cama, in seconding the proposition, 
spoke of the acquirements of the lecturer, who, 
he said, besides being a distinguished graduate 
of the Bombay University, had studied two Euro- 
pean languages French and German and had 
mastered the various ancient languages, among 
them being the Pehelvi, Zend, and Sanskrit lan- 
guages. (Applause.) Mr. Darab was like his 
distinguished father, who was the High Priest 
of the community, well-known for his aptitude 
for learning languages and profound scholarship. 
(Loud applause.) Speaking on the subject of 
infant-marriages, Mr. Cama said that he was 
much grieved to observe that a case of infant- 
marriage had been recently upheld in a court of 
law, and it behoved the Parsee community to 
make a stir in the matter and remodel the law 
which had been found deficient in that respect. 

The motion of thanks was then put to the vote 
by Sir "Raymond, and carried by acclamation. 


Mr. P. M. Mehta then proposed a vote of 
thanks to the Chairman, and in doing so dwelt 
at some length on the eminent qualities which 
distinguished Sir Raymond on the Bench of the 
High Court, and his ability as a Jurist, and his 
long, disinterested, and most valuable services 
rendered to high class, or what was better known 
by the old-fashioned name of liberal education. 
(Loud applause.) 

Khan Bahadur C. M. Cursetjee seconded the 
proposition, which was put to the vote by Mr. 
Mehta and carried amidst tremendous cheering. 

Sir Raymond West, who was received with 
loud cheers, said that it was a pleasure to him 
on an occasion of that kind, which was probably 
the last on which he would address an audience 
of his fellow-subjects of Her Majesty born and 
bred in that country, to find his name associated 
with such sentiments as had been uttered by 
Mr. Mehta, and to find those sentiments so cor- 
dially accepted by the meeting. He felt deeply 
and sincerely how much he owed to the eloquent 
speaker who had proposed a vote of thanks to 
him in terms going so far beyond all he deserved. 
He assured the meeting that till the last moment 


of his life he would never forget the kindness 
shown to him, nofc only on that occasion, but ou 
every occasion on which he associated himself in 
the cause of progress and the public good with 
the native community, but more especially with 
the enterprising and active- minded Parsee com- 
munity, who were known for their sympathy 
and readiness for every good and noble work. 
(Applause.) He trusted that the ideas which he 
had just given expression to would remain a 
sweet memory with him and with those whom he 
would leave behind, and that the interchange 
of kind offices, a common interest in high and 
worthy associations, which, springing from feel- 
ings such as animated them to-day, would long 
do good, not only to this country, but to all parts 
of the world where the English race and the 
English language prevailed. It should be their 
ambition and their high point of sympathy to 
look always to some fair and noble future in 
which every element of a great Empire would be 
associated in the work of ameliorating humanity. 
(Loud applause,) 

[Here follow Sir Eaymond's remarks on the Lecture, whioh, 
are printed on pp. 51-61.} 


IN the controversy which has up to now mus- 
tered the pros and cons with regard to my 
dissertation on the " Alleged Practice of Next- 
of-kin Marriages in Old Iran," it is a pleasure 
to notice how far European savants have been 
compelled to review the basis of their sweeping 
assertion that incest was a common practice in 
the life of the ancient Persian. It seems that 
a serious consideration of my arguments has 
caused a certain modification in the European 
standpoint. Impartial thought results in the 
plain confession that neither is incest 2 pre- 
scribed, nor are next-of-kin marriages recom- 
mended, by the Avesta. Greek authorities on the 
question are no longer quoted without caution. 
The only weapons that the dogmatist can find to 
wield against my position, seem to me to consist 
of such equivocal Pahlavi expressions as admit 
of more than one meaning, or of such passages 

1 A supplement to my lectures on the "Alleged Practice 
of Next-of-kin Marriages in Old Iran," delivered in April, 
1887. See my contribution to the Bombay Gazette, dated 12th 
November, 1890. 

' 2 In the sense of marriages within proscribed degree of 
blood or family relationship. 


in the SJtah-Ndmah, &c., as have no bearing 
upon actual marriage ties, but only describe rare 
immoral acts of a prince or princess. 

In a recent number of the " Babylonian and 
Oriental Kecord " we have been favoured with 
notes' on Qaetvadatha, by the well-known scholar 
Dr. L. C. Casartelli of Manchester, with refer- 
ence to Dr. Hubschmann's paper on this sub- 
ject, " Ueber die persische Venwandtenheirath," 
published in the second number of the " Zeit- 
schrift der deutschen morgenlandischen Gesell- 
schaft," Journal of the German Oriental Society. 1 
"Notwithstanding his remark that " Dr. H. 
Hubschmann entirely agrees with Darab that, as 
far at least as the Avesta itself is concerned, the 
Zend term ' qaetva-datha > has by no means been 
proved to bear the meaning of incestuous mar- 
riage ; nay, that this interpretation is 6 not even 
probable' (this he proves at some length by an 
examination of the passages wherein it occurs:)'' 
this learned doctor (Casartelli), on the authority 
of Prof. Italo Pizzi, points to a certain episode in 
the Shah-Namah t and tries to prove that incest 
did prevail in ancient Persia. It is, here, needless 
to dwell at length upon this subject. It is only 

1 1890. 


necessary to consider what direct proofs can be 
drawn from Firdusi, the writer of that Persian 
epic. In the record above mentioned Dr. Cas- 
artelli's remarks run as follows : 

" Those again who are not acquainted with 
Prof. Italo Pizzi's interesting book on the ' Man- 
ners and Customs of the Heroic Age of Persia/ 
as preserved in the Poem of Firdusi, (" L'Epopea 
Persiana e la vita e i Costumi dei Tempi Eroici 
di Persia," Firenze, 1888), may be glad to see 
what light, in the opinion of the Italian Eranist, 
is cast upon the subject by national Persian 
tradition. Pizzi writes on p. 191 after stating 
the motives for marriages of near kindred, and 
quoting the Greek and other testimonies, ' Of 
these marriages among relations we have but 
few examples in Firdusi' s ' Book of Kings/ But 
the traces of them, though rare, are sufficiently 
clear. Sudabeh, in fact, proposes to the young 
Siyavish marriage with one of her daughters. 
In that case the bride would have been a sister 
of Siyavish, at least on the father's side, as King 
Kavus was father of Siyavish and husband of 
Sudabeh. But Sudabeh went much further and 
proposed to Siyavish, with whom she was in 


love, that when old Kavus died, he might ask 
her for his wife and thus console his grief , which 
would have meant Siyavish's marrying his 
mother .in-law." l 

The writer here does not refer to a single 
short extract, but to an extensive episode relating 
to Sudabeh and Syavakhsh, which runs over more 
than 500 couplets. (Vide " Le Livre des Rois," 
par A. Firdusi, public, traduit et commente 
par M. Jules Mohl, tome second, Paris? Impri- 
merie Royale 1842, pp. 208-230.) 

Firdusi calls the prince Syavakhsh or Syavush. 
The name is identical with the Pahl. " Syavarsh" 
as well as the Avesta f< Syavarshana," lit. ' the 
black man.' He is mentioned in the Avesta, in 

1 I here only touch upon this first reference, since it is to 
my mind worth noticing. Dr. Casartelli says further on: 
" Moreover Rust em had married a sister of Ghev, by which he 
had a son Feramruz, whilst Ghev was the husband of Banu 
Gushasp, Rustem's daughter." In this remark there is evi- 
dently an error. Gev, Av. Gaevani, the son-in-law of 
Rustam, Pahl. " Rudastam," cannot be his wife's brother. I 
should ask the learned scholar to prove that Rustam was 
ever married to a daughter of Gudarz, the father of Gev. 
Gev, the son-in-law of Rustem, may be a cousin of Banu 
Aram. As for the last allusion to King Behman, I refer my 
learned friend to my refutation of the question in pp. 36-38 
of my < ' Next-of -kin Marriages in Old Iran." 


Yaslits IX. 18; XVII. 42; XIX. 77 ; and in the 
Afrin-i-Zarthusht, etc. He is the son of Kai- 
Kaus, Av. Kava Usa, the eldest son of Kavi 
Kavata, and brother of Kavi Arshna and Kavi 
Pishina (Yt. XIII. 132 ; XIX. 71). Sudabeh, Av. 
es Sutavangha," whom Masoudi names " Soada," 
is the daughter of Shammar, King of Hamavar 
(see ' Barbier de Meynard,' II. 119), and wife of 

It is to be observed that Syavakhsh was not born 
of Sudabeh/ but that the latter was his step- 
mother, and daughter of the King of Hamavar, 
who had treacherously imprisoned Kai-Kaus, her 
husband, and often endeavoured to throw off his 
allegiance to that Iranian monarch. We should 
further consider the motive which would have 
actuated Sudabeh to propose incestuous union 
with her step- son, Syavakhsh, and also what senti- 
ments were uttered by that prince when such an 
unnatural proposal was made to him. I would 
refer my readers to the literal French translation 
of the episode, which is contained in Mohl's 
second volume, pp. 208*230. For the purpose 

1 Compare Zimmern's " Heroic Tales Betold from Firdusi," 
pp. 172 seq. 


of this paper the following passages from the free 
English version of select extracts from the Shah- 
Namali, by Atkinson, 1 would be sufficient: 

"The history of the adventure of Kaus at 
Hamaveran, and what the king and his warriors 
endured in consequence of the treachery of the 
father of Sudabeh, flashed upon his (Syavakhsh's) 
mind. 2 He, therefore, was full of apprehension, 

1 "The Shah Nameh" of Firdusi, translated and abridged 
in Prose and Verse, by J. Atkinson (London, 1886), pp. 146, 

2 The original verses of the Shdh-Ndmah, in Mohl's edition, 
Vol. II., pp. 220-224, run as follows : 

* 5 (1) 

^ (2) 


and breathed not a word in answer to her fond- 
ness. Sudabeh observing his silence and re- 
luctance, threw away from herself the veil of 

ee And said : * be my own, for I am thine, 
and clasp me in thy arms ! ' And then she sprang* 
to the astonished boy, and eagerly kissed his 

.'. j*l 1&J* ,*f 8^^ f^3 ^/o 13 ,S 
' (* ' * ^JJ ' J a) 

I ^ 

> uj^ (3) 


deep crimsoned cheek, which filled his soul with 
strange confusion. ' When the king is dead, 
take me to thyself ; see how I stand, body and 
soul devoted unto thee.' In his heart he said: 
f This never can be : this is a demon's work- 
shall I be treacherous ? What ! to my own dear 
father ? Never, never I will not thus be tempted 
by the devil ; yet must I not be cold to this wild 
woman, for fear of further folly/ 

" On another day she sent for him, and ex- 
claimed : f I cannot now dissemble j since I saw 
thee I seem to be as dead my heart all withered, 
seven years have passed in unrequited love 
seven long, long years. ! be not still obdu- 
rate, but with the generous impulse of affection, 
Oh, bless my anxious spirit, or refusing, thy life 
will be in peril ; thou shalt die ! * e Never,' 
replied the youth ; ' 0, never, never; Oh, ask me 
not, for this can never be/ " l 

1 Relying on the authority of Prof. Mohl's French Transla- 
tion of the Shah-Ndmah, Zimmern speaks about it as follows : 

" It came about that Sudaveh beheld the youth of Saiawush, 
and her eyes were filled with his beauty, and her soul burned 
after him, so she sent unto him a messenger and invited him 
to enter the house of the women. But he sent in answer words 
of excuse, for he trusted her not." 

I have here to repeat what I have already 
emphasized in my lectures, that in this episode 
the positive refusal and repugnance of Syavakhsh 
to his step-mother's treacherous allurements, evi- 
dently prove that no such practice was in favour 
with the royal blood in the time of Kai-Kaus, 
Were incestuous marriages admissible, what pos- 
sible reason would the prince have for describ- 
ing the proposal as " a demon's work/' as the act 
of a treacherous and wild woman ? Further, it is 
to be remembered that the sincerity of Sudabeh's 
invitation is not beyond question. It is easy to 
surmise that if submitted to by the prince, it 
would have enabled Sudabeh to carry out her 
design for removing Syavakhsh, who was heir to 
the Iranian throne, but was not her own son. l 
The English translator further relates 2 : 

" Syavakhsh then rose to depart precipitately, 
but Sudabeh observing him, endeavoured to 
cling round him and arrest his flight. The en- 
deavour, however, was fruitless ; and finding at 

1 The first act of the prince on succeeding to the throne, 
would naturally be the banishment of Sudabeh, daughter of 
Shammar, the hereditary enemy of Iran. 

2 Vide p. 147 of Atkinson. 


length her situation desperate, she determined 
to turn the adventure into her own favour by 
accusing Syavakhsh of an atrocious outrage on 
her own person and virtue. She, accordingly, 
tore her dress, screamed aloud, and rushed out of 
her apartment to inform Kaus of the indignity 
she had suffered. " 

Here, I believe, we light upon an interesting 
element of political intrigue. There is the in- 
sinc^re expression of maternal love on the part of 
Sudabeh, the unwilling visit of Syavakhsh to her 
palace (forced by the command of his father, 
King Kai-Kaus), the unnatural solicitation of the 
prince by his step-mother, the refusal of the for- 
mer to accept her unlawful overtures, and, lastly, 
the innocence of the prince and the perfidious 
accusation against him by Sudabeh. An intrigue 
with such an object not unknown in the political 
history of ancient Persia, cannot lead us to 
conclude that there was any natural or actual 
proposal for the hand of the prince, or that such 
a proposal would have passed without a meet 
penalty as an offence against the throne. Even 
granted that such a proposal were sincere, is there 
the slightest ground for attempting to prove from 


it the existence of marriages amongst the next-of- 
kin ? Was any such marriage ever consummated 
between Syavakhsh and Sudabeh ? When the 
solicitations of Sudabeh are plainly characterized 
by Syavakhs has a temptation of the devil, I am , 
at a loss to see why my learned friend Dr. Casar- 
telli should yearn to find in this story an im- 
portant clue to incestuous marriages in old Iran. 

There is another interesting allusion to the 
same episode. " Sudabeh proposes to the young 
Siyavish marriage with one of her daughters. In 
that case the bride would have been a sister of 
Siyavish " Ifc is surprising to find that Euro- 
pean savants, notwithstanding their extensive 
knowledge of Oriental customs, have often failed 
to comprehend correctly the several forms of 
Oriental etiquette and address. I beg to submit 
that some Eastern terms for mother, daughter or 
sister, are not to be as strictly interpreted as 
such words are in Western languages. Those 
Europeans who have been accustomed to the 
Indian style of address, may have noticed that 
the Hindustani words "amrnct" or "md," and 
the Gujerati " mdyaji" do not literally denote 
( ' mother " in every case, but are generally used 


&s expressions of address to any lady at the head 
of a household or to any elderly woman in the 
ordinary sense of the English "madam." So 
also the designations for sisters and daughters, 
are not used strictly in their literal sense, but 
they are a common form of address to ordinary 
young girls, female visitors, relations, cousins, 
&c. When, therefore, Sudabeh calls the young 
maidens of her palace her *' daughters," it does 
not necessarily mean that they were her own 
actual offspring, but the term would be applica- 
ble to the daughters of relations, nobles, or other 
allied princes; and so any proposal for the hand 
of one of the so-called " daughters," does not in 
the least prove that the proposed bride was the 
offspring of Kai-Kaus. 

I conclude this paper with general observa- 
tions upon the reasons which have thrown some 
European Iranists into the palpable error of 
attributing the practice of next-ofckin marriages 
to the early Zoroastrians. It is a well-known 
fact that the Shdh-Ndmah is partly based on 
indigenous traditions preserved in the old Persian 
or Pahlavi literature extant in the time of Fir- 
dusi. The Pahlayi fragments of Earnamak-i- 


Artakhshtar-i-Pdpakin (containing about 5,600 
words, equal to thirty octavo pages), Yddgdr-i- 
Zarirdn (wrongly styled the Pahlavi Shdh-Ndmah, 
since it contains about 3,000 words, equal only 
to fifteen octavo pages a short account of the 
war between Gushtasp and Arjasp), as well as 
the fourth book of the Dinkard (extending to 
about 4,000 words, and containing a description 
o the exploits of various Iranian monarchs from 
Gushtasp to Noshirvan), have lately been sub- 
mitted to close research. These writings havo 
furnished us with plain proofs that the epic of 
the Shdh-Ndmah&ud other genuine Persian books 
relating to the earliest period of Iranian monar- 
chy, were neither myths nor fictions, but, to a 
certain extent, reliable works, the offspring of 
the earlier Pahlavi, which has not survived in its 
entirety. Hence it is not difficult to trace the 
error of the European view. We begin with the 
assertion that later Persian history is the out- 
come of its Pahlavi predecessor. For that reason 
I presume that ordinary Persian words for daugh- 
ter, sister, or son, used in the first-mentioned, 
are synonymous with the words used in the 
original Pahlavi authorities. 


Pahlavi is a composite language, containing 
the elements of two different root-languages, viz., 
Arian and Semitic. In it the words used to 
express the nearest blood relationships are gene- 
rally Semitic. They are akh ' brother,' akhtman 
' sister,' benman ' son/ and bentman ' daughter.' 
It is remarkable that in Pahlavi, as in Arabic and 
Hebrew, the word akh does not always strictly 
denote 'brother;' but in all these three langua- 
ges it signifies ' a brother/ ' a kinsman/ or f a 
friend' (see Richardson and Arnold). Similarly, 
Pahl. aJfhtman means f a girl/ ' a sister/ or ( a 
female friend.' The Pahl. bentman denotes any 
intimate relation ' a boy/ ' a son/ ( a youth, 
or 'a descendant/ So also the Pahl. bentman 
signifies 'a girl/ 'a daughter' or 'a female kins- 
man.' It is, therefore, erroneous to restrict 
ourselves only to the meaning of 'sister' or 
' daughter * whenever the Pahl. words akhtman 
or bentman occur. 


' The genial and industrious scholar Dastur Darab Peshotan 
San j ana favoured us yesterday with a contribution which 
supplements his paper on ' Next-of-kin Marriages in Ancient 
Iran,' which was read a year or two since before the Bombay 
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Since that paper was 
read Madame Dieulafoy's striking romance of " Pary satis " 
has given wider currency to the received traditionary and 
historical belief on this subject. Madame Dieulafoy with all 
her pretensions to knowledge concerning Persian antiquities, 
takes Parysatis as she finds her in tradition, the consort of her 
brother Darius, and Artaxerxes wedded in succession to two 
of his nearest blood relations. Inquiry into the latest results 
of philosophical and ethnographic investigation would, how- 
ever, have warned the gifted Frenchwoman against a too 
ready acceptance of conventional beliefs on this subject. We 
need not here reproduce either the earlier or the later of the 
Dastur' s arguments on the subject. It is sufficient to say that 
he has gone far to establish the proposition that the Pehlvi 
terms, the use of which has led to a belief that next- of -kin 
marriages were common in early Iranian society, have a much 
wider meaning than has hitherto been attached to them. 
European Iranists seem to have come round of late to the 
conclusion, which the Bombay Dastur has set forth with so 
much industry and clearness a result which must be regarded 
with gratification. For though, as George Eliot says, we 
cannot reform our ancestors, it is always satisfactory when we 
learn that they were better than they have been credited with 
being.' [Bombay Gazette, November 13, 1890.] 

'Mr. D. D. P. Sanjana handled an interesting subject the 
other day whilst discoursing on the position of woman 
amongst the Zoroastrians in the early times of the A vesta. 
From the rather meagre materials scattered up and down the 
Avesta, or the sacred writings of the Parsees at present 
extant, he has drawn a clear sketch, which goes far to show 


that the position which the weaker sex occupied at that time 
was a veiy honourable one honourable to them as well as to 
the sterner sex which conceded it. This position, it may be 
observed, is quite the reverse of that degraded state into 
which woman fell in nearly all Eastern countries in later 
times, and from which she is perhaps destined never to rise 
altogether. As was observed by the chairman, Sir Raymond 
West, woman occupied a noble position in the dawn of civili- 
zation among several ancient nations, but as this civilization 
advanced and nations became more refined, woman was thrust 
into an inferior position, and she became the mere instru- 
ment of man's pleasure and lust. In the dawn of Greek civi- 
lization, as preserved to us by the Homeric poems, woman 
was regarded with, great respect, and a great measure of 
freedom was accorded to her. But when that dawn broke 
into the bright day of Greek culture and the noon was 
reached in the age of Pericles, the greatest blot in this cul- 
ture was the degraded, almost slavish, state of their women 
and their lax morality : by the side of Pericles stands Aspasia. 
Looking to this country we find the same phenomenon. In 
the earliest times of which there is any literary record, we 
find that the Hindoo women occupied a far higher position 
that in our times. Among the ancient Iranians, as Mr. 
Sanjana has shown, woman was on the same level in most 
things in her sphere as man. But in their later history, espe- 
cially in the time of the Sassanides, when the Zoroastrian 
faith became the state religion, woman, it appears, fell from 
her high place and sank into a debased state. From Mr. 
Sanjana's paper it is clear that the early Iranians recognised 
fully the spiritual equality of woman with man an equality 
which, according to Mr. Lecky, was not recognised by the 
proudest civilization of ancient times. Christianity was the 
first to do that for her, and thus to lift her from the abyss 
into which the Greek and later Eoman civilization had thrown 
her. But the Zoroastrian faith did it long before Christianity, 
and may be said to have anticipated it in this its noblest 


work. Thus this assertion of the spiritual equality of woman 
with man is one of the many points in which the Zoroastrian 
faith resembles the Christian. Another interesting fact 
bronght ont in the lecture is that the ancient Iranians paid 
great attention to the spiritual and moral development of their 
women, and in this matter their modern descendants should 
try to follow closely in their footsteps. For moral education, 
of great importance to both the sexes, is of peculiar importance 
to the female, and what is rightly called the weaker sex. 
Neglect of it, such as is observed at the present day in 
Europe, results in the disastrous effects which writers like 
Mr. Lilly have so vigorously exposed. And Parsees would do 
well to profit by this.' [Times of India, April 22, 1892.] 

' Mr. Darab Peshotan Sanjana's delineation of Zoroastrian 
women in remote antiquity shows research and illustrates 
his profound scholarship. He points out that in primitive 
Iranian society the wife held a position, in social as well 
spiritual matters, not inferior to that of her spouse. With 
an array of apt quotations to support his position, he con- 
cludes that the duties of a woman in the Avesta period were 
not confined to the economical functions of her household, 
but bad an important bearing on the moral and spiritual 
progress of the Avesta nation. Her training had rendered 
her capable of serving, not only as a moral teacher to her 
own children, but also to her own sex. Illegal union between 
the sexes was condemned as a mortal crime. Infanticide 
was strictly prohibited, and disobedience towards the hus- 
band was a shameful crime. Sir Raymond West's speech 
on the occasion served the purpose of an exquisite frame to 
Mr. Saojana's picture. Sir Raymond emphasized the point 
that there was something to be done, besides instructing 
women in mere learning. Equality of education does not 
mean indentity of education as between men and women. 
It means a recognition of some great differences and an 
equal unfolding of the gifts of each sex.' [Indian Spectator, 
April 22, 1892.]